The Poster. 200 Years of History and Art
27.2. – 20.9.2020
With nearly 400 exhibits by around 200 artists and designers, the exhibition The Poster. 200 Years of Art and History at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) offers a large-scale, representative overview of the history of the poster from its beginnings in the early nineteenth century to today. Art and history, design and advertising meet in this medium. Posters accompany political events as well as film and theatre history. They document social developments while also reflecting changing artistic styles. Campaign posters feature portraits of politicians and concert posters those of musicians, manufacturers advertise new products and the tourist industry the most beautiful destinations – even websites are being promoted today with posters. There is no other art genre that pervades our everyday lives to such an extent. The notable Polish poster artist Jan Lenica said in 1966: “The poster undoubtedly has a function, it has a mission, and it must do justice to this duty. But its meaning lies not in what it is supposed to convey but in what it has to say.” And good posters send a multi-layered message that goes beyond mere advertising to make a statement on the times, on design, and on history, fashion, or taste. This is the “added value” that can turn a poster into a work of art.
Posters experienced a heyday around 1900 in the era of Art Nouveau, later with the Art Deco style and the avant-garde movements of the 1920s, and again in the 1960s. Whenever art and everyday life converge, as in Art Nouveau, in the Bauhaus period, or in Pop Art, the boundaries between applied and fine art become blurred. This has given rise to posters that are still admired today as artistic highlights of their time. Examples include the famous lithographs by Toulouse-Lautrec and Alfons Mucha, as well as, thirty years later, the movie posters by the Stenberg brothers in Moscow and Cassandre’s compositions in Paris. The exhibition presents the leading poster artists, most of whom are known far too little in Germany, and their characteristic and important works from the collection of the MKG.
Publication: The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue titled “The Poster,” 380 pages, 480 illustrations, approx. 50 euros (expected publication date: May 2020).
Image 1: Exhibition view, photo: Henning Rogge
Image 2: Oliviero Toscani (*1942), Angel and Devil – United Colors of Benetton, spring campaign 1991, offset print (six pieces), 296 x 400 cm, MKG, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020
Image 3: Exhibition view, photo: Henning Rogge
Image 4: Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997), Crying Girl. Announcement of the Leo Castelli Gallery, 1963, offset lithography , 43,3 x 58,3 cm, MKG, © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020
Image 5: Exhibition view, photo: Henning Rogge
Image 6: James Montgomery Flagg (1877–1960), I want you for U.S. Army, 1917, colour lithography, 102 x 75,8 cm, MKG, © unknown, photo: MKG
Image 7: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), Ambassadeurs – Aristide Bruant dans son cabaret, 1892, colour lithography , 138 x 96,5 cm, MKG, Public Domain